Updated at 1:18 p.m., with horse being retired
Trainer Doug O’Neill confirmed that the colt would not run in the Belmont in a “Dan Patrick Show” interview. “I’ll Have Another is officially out of the Belmont,” trainer Doug O’Neill said on “The Dan Patrick Show.”
The winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness has “a little problem with his left front leg,” O’Neill told Patrick, adding that he believed it was the “start of some tendinitis.”
The trainer added that the injury was not life-threatening. “It’s a bummer, but far from tragic,” O’Neill said. In an afternoon news conference, O’Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam said the horse’s racing career was ending and that his stud career would begin. As O’Neill had indicated to Patrick, “he will be seeing a lot of mares and smoking a lot of cigarettes.”
O’Neill denied that any other issues, such as drugs or O’Neill’s decision to train the horse with almost daily gallops, were bothering him. He said that the three-year-old, unbeaten in four races this year, showed signs of swelling in his leg after a workout Thursday afternoon.
The horse was worked out earlier than usual, at 5:30 a.m. Friday. “He has been a little quiet the last few days of galloping,” O’Neill said. “Yesterday we noticed some loss of definition in the leg. I prayed it was just a bit of skin irritation. This morning he looked great, but cooling down, you could tell that the swelling was back. He looked great on the track, but, cooling out, we could see that the swelling was back.” An ultrasound revealed a problem with the tendon.
Since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, 11 Derby and Preakness champions have tried and failed to repeat the accomplishment. Three champions, Only Burgoo King (1932), Bold Venture (1936) and now I’ll Have Another, did not run in the Belmont.
A series of events had nagged I’ll Have Another’s routine after the Preakness. O’Neill was suspended 45 days and fined $15,000 by the California Horse Racing Board for a medication violation and New York racing stewards said that the horse would have to run without the breathing strip he wore this year. Because of visa problems, the colt’s exercise rider had to be replaced for a few days. Last week, I’ll Have Another and a loose horse nearly collided on the track. In addition, a special detention barn was set up for security reasons, angering trainers.
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